Consolidation for Toyota Gazoo Racing at Dakar Stage 8

Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy brought their GR IMT Hilux EVO T1+ home in the 9th-fastest time on Stage 8 of Dakar 2024. The 2009 winner of the Dakar Rally and his co-driver had a clean run, only relinquishing time to the stage winners in a rough section near the finish, where they opted for caution rather than chancing a puncture.

Their time loss in the end was 10min 18sec, and they remain in 5th place in the overall standings. The gap to the crew ahead of them is just 11min, so the South African pairing will be aiming to improve on their position over the closing stages of the race.

Rookie driver, Guy Botterill, together with co-driver Brett Cummings, recorded another good stage, setting the 18th-fastest time. They were on track for a better result, but a puncture near the end of the stage cost them just over two minutes. Guy has limited experience in the dune, but Stage 8 offered him the opportunity to shadow some of the faster competitors through the tricky dune section. As such, he has steadily been increasing his knowledge, and will be hoping to move up from the 9th position he currently occupies in the overall standings.

TGR's Saood Variawa, also taking part in his first Dakar Rally, had a tough time on Stage 7, with a host of problems that hampered his progress. As a result, he started Stage 8 way down the order, but recorded a clean run despite dusty conditions, to set the 19th-fastest time on the stage. He lost 18min 9sec to the leaders and is in 25th place overall.

Stage 8 of the 2024 Dakar Rally brought valuable World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC) points for both Seth Quintero and teammate, Lucas Moraes. The Brazilian driver, however, is still in a podium position in the overall standings, and while W2RC points are important to him, too, he will be focusing on achieving the best possible result at the Dakar Rally.

Stage 8 took the teams from the bivaouc at Al Duwadimi to the city of Ha'il. The stage started with a liaison of 125km, linking the bivouac with the start of the stage. Next up was a timed section of 458km, which included a long transfer at restricted speeds, before the crews completed a final liaison of 95km to bring them to Ha'il.

For Lucas and co-driver, Armand Monleon, the stage went smoothly, though they ended up as the first car on the road towards the end of the day. This hampered their progress somewhat, but despite the added challenge of finding the route, they posted the 7th-fastest time of the day, just 9min 51sec behind the stage winners. This has cemented their third place in the overall standings, where they trail the overall leader by 1hr 5min 35sec. The gap to second place is 40min 48sec, and their lead over the crew behind them is 29min 5sec.

While Lucas and Armand are contending for a podium position, teammates Seth and Dennis are out of overall contention in the race. They are, however, eligible to score W2RC points, and as such their focus remains on solid stage performances. They went 5th-fastest on Stage 8, finishing just 7min 52sec down on the stage winners.

Next up is Stage 9 of the rally, which will see the crews leave from the bivouac in Ha'il, and head towards the tourist city of Alula, where the race began on January 6th. The stage will start with a short liaison of 76km, before a tough 436km timed section that covers asphalt, dirt, sand, dunes and rocky traverses. A final liaison of 149km will take the crews to the bivouac at Alula, where the rally will remain encamped for two nights, before the final trek to the coastal city of Yanbu, where the rally will finish on Friday.

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing would like to extend its condolences to the friends and family of biker Carles Falcon, from Spain, who passed away today following a crash on Stage 2 of the event. While we learnt of his passing with sadness, we believe his spirit lives on with all the crews and riders who continue to contest events like the Dakar Rally, continuously pushing their own limits.


Shameer Variawa, SVR Team Principal: “Stage 8 was a very good one for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing. All five our cars performed faultlessly, despite the mixed terrain of the route. We also achieved some very good stage results, with three cars in the Top 10. This sets us up in a great position for the closing stages, with the same three cars in the overall Top 10. I'm also pleased with Saood’s progress today - he finally recorded a clean run after a couple of tough stages, and we can see it in his results. He was 19th on the stage today, which will give him a much better starting position tomorrow.”

Giniel de Villiers: “Today was not too bad. I’d lost a bit of time in the end in the rocks. I was too cautious, so I gave away two minutes there, which I only realised at the finish. We made some small changes on the suspension, which I think is working better now. We’ll see over the next couple of days. It’s going to be a very tough stage tomorrow, and the second last one is going to be seriously tough. So, you know, anything can still happen. We’ll just keep our noses down and try and keep them clean.”

Guy Botterill: “Today was good. We went out in some seriously technical dunes. They weren’t very big dunes, but very technical. We had a steady pace. The Audis passed us, and I sat with them for quite a long time. I think I picked up the pace a little bit just being behind them and learning and seeing what they could do. I’ve learnt a lot, and picked up the pace quite a bit in the sand dunes. And then we got onto the flat stuff where I’m pretty good. Unfortunately, we picked up a puncture, which was very frustrating. But all in all, I think it was a good day and the car was going very well.”

Saood Variawa: “It was a tricky stage, especially with navigation. But we made all the waypoints, and we did a perfect job. In the start, we lost a bit of time in the dunes. But towards the end we were doing quite well. Unfortunately, we had a lot of dust and the last 50 kilometres we were just sitting in dust, driving an average of 50 km/h. It’s tough coming from the back, but at least we’ll have a much better starting position for tomorrow. I just want to say thank you to the team and the mechanics that stayed up till five in the morning prepping the car, after all the issues that we had yesterday. Thank you to them and thank you to the team for everything.”

Seth Quintero: “The strategy for the next four days is different than I think most. I’m really just gonna go out and hammer down. Whatever happens, happens. I’m gonna try to get as many stage points as I can for the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing team, and make sure we’re in a good spot for the Constructors Championship. But yeah, today was a good day all in all. Got some points and we’ll continue to push.”

Lucas Moraes: “I guess we have to keep this strategy that we are using of being smart, being fast but also looking after the car. I mean, it’s really important to keep up the pace and stay in the top five. Of course, Loeb is trying to do everything to catch Sainz, so we are on the stands watching these two fight it out. We are in a great position and have to keep fighting, keep the car in one piece and keep going.”


1. #207 M. Ekstrom / E. Berg

(Team Audi Sport)

03h 17min 15sec

2. #202 S. Peterhansel / E. Boulanger

(Team Audi Sport)


3. #211 G. Chicherit / A. Winocq

(Overdrive Racing)


4. #204 C. Sainz / L. Cruz

(Team Audi Sport)


5. #216 S. Quintero / D. Zenz

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)


6. #221 G. de Mevius / X. Panseri

(Overdrive Racing)


7. #206 L. Moraes / A. Monleon

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)


8. #231 R. Dumas / M. Delfino

(Rebillion Racing)


9. #209 G. De Villiers / D. Murphy

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)


10. #203 S. Loeb / F. Lurquin

(Bahrain Raid Xtreme)


18. #243 G. Botterill / B. Cummings

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)


19. #226 S. Variawa / F. Cazalet

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)



1. #204 C. Sainz / L. Cruz 

(Team Audi Sport)

33h 29min 10sec

2. #203 S. Loeb / F. Lurquin

(Bahrain Raid Xtreme)


3. #206 L. Moraes / A. Monleon

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)


4. #221 G. de Mevius / X. Panseri

(Overdrive Racing)


5. #209 G. De Villiers / D. Murphy

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)


6. #211 G. Chicherit / A. Winocq

(Overdrive Racing)


7. #208 M. Prokop / V. Chytka

(Orlen Jipocar Team)


8. #212 M. Serradori / L. Minaudier

(Century Racing Factory Team)


9. #243 G. Botterill / B. Cummings

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)


10. #223 B. Vanagas / K. Sikk

(Toyota GAZOO Racing Baltics)


26. #226 S. Variawa / F. Cazalet

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)


78. #216 S. Quintero / D. Zenz

(Toyota GAZOO Racing)